Zucchini pie with yeasted olive oil crust

I am so happy with this savory pie.  Here’s the deal: the filling takes about four minutes to pull together and you can use any pie shell you want.  You can make this recipe in a snap with a pre-made crust, or you can give it a little more love and make the crust yourself.

I went with a yeasted olive oil crust from one of my most favorite cookbooks, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  I usually shy away from tart and quiche type things for dinner because, with a buttery crust, they can be pretty high in calories.  This crust is lighter.  In many ways, it’s like a thin pizza dough enriched with olive oil and an egg.  It’s seriously very easy to make — not fussy and it comes together within a few minutes.  I think it’s much easier than a regular pie dough.  All you need is a bit of time to let the dough rise.

If you prefer a traditional shell, I am currently digging on this recipe for a for a flaky rye pie crust on 101 cookbooks.  I would definitely go the beer route for the liquid in the crust.  A Pilsner style would be perfect.

So, on to the filling.  Ever since that zucchini casserole, I’ve been thinking about a pie.  The flavors in this pie, white wine vinegar and mustard, draw from a southern French salad dressing recipe a friend taught me a while back.  The dressing, combined with Gruyere, pulls together a very flavorful dish.

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Amaranth and quinoa porridge

Every PhD student’s life is marked by a bit of academically sanctioned torture that’s known as a “qualifying exam.”  In my case, the qualifying exam is a month long written test followed by a 3 hour oral exam.  It’s a scary test, but preparing for it is even scarier — my desk is currently hidden under teetering piles of papers and books.  Thankfully, the prep is almost over.  I start my exams in 10 days.

Because of this exam situation, I haven’t left my desk as often as I’d like over the past month.  That also means I’ve been eating less fresh fruits and veggies and more stuff from the pantry (or the proverbial pantry, as our tiny kitchen definitely does not have a real pantry).  One of the dishes that’s become a new staple over the last month — and one I absolutely adore! — is a multigrain porridge.

I’ve always liked a warm breakfast cereal.  I started veering away from the usual flaked grains one day when I laid my eyes on a bag of amaranth that had been sitting around the house for a while.  I cooked a bit of it.  Then I mixed it with some other grains.  At points I was stirring together some combination of amaranth, quinoa, short grained brown rice, jasmine rice and millet, seeking a lightly sweet and creamy breakfast porridge.  I also added different types of milks, spices, fruits and nuts.

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Corn, cucumber and tomato salad

It’s high time for a salad post to balance out the booze and baked goods.  Especially since it’s that corn and tomato time of year.  So, here’s a simple salad I made the other day for a friend.  Mid-bite she said, “See, this is the kind of stuff you should be putting on your blog!  It’s so easy.”  Or something like that.  I agree.

In this recipe I use white balsamic vinegar, which my step-mom introduced me to a little while back.  It’s really nice on corn, since it conveys a sweet flavor without discoloring the salad.  It used to be pretty hard to find, but now Trader Joe’s stocks it and I’d imagine Whole Foods has it, too.  If you don’t own a bottle, I think it’s worth adding to your vinegar collection.  Just don’t show it to your cultured Italian friends, who will stare and say, “There is no such thing as white balsamic in Italy.”  (Hi, Christina!)

I also used some neat-o lemon cucumbers I happened upon at the farmer’s market.  They’re kind of funny looking, but a cute little kid behind the stand assured me that they were good.  I’m glad I took his word for it.  I really liked them.  But, this recipe will work with whatever cucumbers you have around.

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Zucchini, corn and cherry tomato casserole

I knew I wanted to make something with zucchini and corn.  I also wanted there to be leftovers — something I could easily eat for lunch over the next couple days.  For the first time in my life, it occurred to me that a casserole might be the answer.  So I made one.  And it will definitely, definitely not be my last casserole.  It hit the spot.

This dish is total comfort food.  It’s particularly nice when you wake up in August with a cold that’s left your head in a cloud (colds in August = not fair), or even when all the news stories are just so miserable that it feels good to make something simple and grounded.

Contrary to my previous thoughts on casseroles, this is a light dish.  You could eat it as either a main or a side course.  If it’s a main, you may want to pair it with a tossed green salad.  Also, this recipe isn’t fussy.  If you have little bits of leftover grains around your house, you might mix them in place of or in addition to the rice.  I can picture something with millet, quinoa, farro or wheat berries being totally yummy. Continue reading

Summer split pea soup with yogurt and dill

I usually think of split pea soup as a winter thing, but last week I gave a summer version a shot and I was really happy with the result.  Alex and I ate it outside for an early dinner with a couple glasses of savignon blanc.  I also think this soup would be nice served up in little shot-sized glasses or porcelain spoons for an hors d’oeuvre or an amuse bouch (they did something similar with a spring pea soup while we were at Blackberry Farm and everyone was raving about it).  But, beyond tasting wonderful, this recipe is secretly really healthy — packed with protein and low in fat and calories (perfect for post-July 4 BBQ benders!).

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Barbecue tempeh burgers topped with jalapeno slaw

When I first became vegetarian, it seemed like there were only two food options out in the restaurant world: variants of marinated and grilled zucchini/eggplant/peppers and veggie burgers (both of which were especially present at barbecues).  About 10 years ago I finally reached my absolute fill — no more!  So, I started to look around for other grilling options.  I mean, grilling is fun!  And chowing down on a burger off the grill (whatever that burger is made of) is such a part of American culture.  I like joining in.

Recently I’ve really been on the tempeh wagon.  Not only do I like the way it tastes, it’s a great mechanism for eating barbecue sauce, which I definitely don’t get enough of.  This recipe can be made the night before your barbecue (in fact, it’s best if it is) and then slapped on the grill when you’re ready. Continue reading

Squash blossoms stuffed with fava beans, quinoa and chevre

While my body’s been back in the US for two weeks now, I think my head was still in Thailand until a couple days ago.  A trip to the farmer’s market finally transported me back home.  I was so excited about all the produce, I just wanted to go rush home and cook in our California kitchen!  No more longing for scooters and noodles.  At least, for now.

So, here’s a recipe that, to me, is quintessential California: light, fresh and healthy.  Maybe it’s a  little heretical to eat squash blossoms raw (the Italians wouldn’t approve), but they’re good, so why not? Continue reading

Thai green curry

While I was in the middle of writing about the best vegetarian green curry of all time, Alex and I boarded a plane and then a ferry, trading Bangkok for Koh Phi Phi.

In Koh Phi Phi, my blog plans were thwarted.  Our hotel didn’t really have internet.  So, we focused on SCUBA diving, hiking  and a bit of lounging on the beach…

One of the fun things about going to the beach in Thailand is that the beach-side restaurants sell Thai food (shocker!).  After a snorkel, we’d crawl out of the water, land on some chairs in the sand, and order up soups and curries. Continue reading

Stinging Nettle Pasta Ribbons with Roasted Cauliflower

In my recent food blog roamings I’ve been seeing Spring nettle recipes.  So, when I stumbled across nettles at the farmer’s market over the weekend I was curious.  I picked up a bag and grabbed one of the heads of cauliflower overflowing from the stands around the market.  I also vowed to plant tulips next year (or, really, plant anything at all…).

Nettles in hand, I took to the internet when we got home.  After inspiration from these beautiful recipes for nettle ravioli and pasta, I decided that was it — I would make nettle pasta!  So, for the first time since 2004, I pulled out my pasta roller. (Yes — that’s 7 years, 4 different states and 3 cross-country drives since I last used it.  Totally absurd.)


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Smoothies

After a couple weeks on the road eating and drinking a bit too much, we’re trying to make this week extra healthy.  So far, there’s been lots of salad, roasted veggies, hummus and lentils (…and a couple ice cream sundaes…oops).  Now we’re moving into smoothies, our go-to when we want to put ourselves on a healthy path.  I love, love, love our smoothies for packing a big vitamin and fiber punch.  We also mix in enough veggies that they’re substantial, while reasonably low in calories.

To make a smoothie, I start with the same base every time (with a little variation here and there):

  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 – 1/2 banana (I like just a touch for creaminess and potassium, without giving the smoothie too strong of a banana flavor)

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